Destined to die at the age of 20, Chen Chang Sheng (Lu Han) descends from the mountain where he was raised in search of a cure. As he reaches the capital, he becomes embroiled in the struggle for power between the Human and Beast clans on one side, and the Demon Clan on the other. There, he also meets the beautiful Saintess Xu Yourong (Guli Nazha), the Beast Clan Princess Bai Luoheng (Wu Qian), the honest warrior Xuanyuan Po (Gao Hanyu), as well as the genius inventor Tang Thirty-Six (Zeng Shun Xi).
This drama had been making eyes at me for quite a while but I’d never taken the plunge because I kept seeing complaints about the leads’ acting and the lead female character. In the end, I did it anyway simply because the protagonist was supposed to be kind and selfless, and I’m really glad I did, because I found Fighter of the Destiny to be an entertaining tale with laughter, tears, friendship and adventure galore.
I have to admit that at first, I agreed with the critics about both leads’ acting, and especially the detractors of the female lead. But it was never unbearable, didn’t even come close, and my opinion ended up changing quite quickly. Lu Han isn’t the best actor in this one, that’s true, but he wasn’t the worst either, and I think we can give him a pass given that this was his first acting role ever.
As for Guli Nazha, the thing is that her character is very reserved and practices a cultivation technique which relies on controlling one’s emotions. That, combined with her background, makes her a very quiet, very calm person, so at first she does seem completely insipid. But she really changes a lot as she grows closer to Chen Chang Sheng and his little group, and while she’s not the most expressive of people, I think Guli Nazha does a good job at portraying her.
In the end, both leads match each other very well in temperament and beliefs, and I love how steadfast they were regarding their mutual love. It wasn’t the sort of romance that tears the skies asunder or anything, no burning passion, but instead a quiet sort of belief, respect, and trust in each other.
A Different Sort of Hero
Again, I know many people complained about Chen Chang Sheng being weak and not virile enough, but to me it was refreshing to see. Sure, he wasn’t physically strong and kicking butt all the time, but there’s power in smarts and mental resilience, too. I’m also a sucker for kind, selfless protagonists, and Fighter of the Destiny gave me everything I could have ever wanted on that front.
Straight and to the Point
Another thing I really appreciated in Fighter of the Destiny is that, although the dialogue is redundant at times, people have no communication issues. No, in fact, they’re all frank to the point of bluntness, getting straight to the point, and what little isn’t said is easily inferred. Because yes, these characters are, for the most part, normal-people levels of smart and can actually read between the lines. It’s extremely refreshing, and also leads to a solid romance, since the couple, you know, actually talk to each other.
The Most Beautiful Love Line
But the romance that truly, unexpectedly hooked me heart and soul was the unrequited love Luo Luo held for Chen Chang Sheng. Played by Janice Wu, she really stole the show in each and every one of her scenes. What made her character so very compelling, so very exceptional, however, was her unyielding support for the man she knew would never love her back. She was so pure, so selfless, there’s no way you can’t love her.
Strong Female Characters
In the end, one of the pillars of the show was undoubtedly its female characters, who all were memorable in their own right. In fact, the very first thing that grabbed my attention was the Empress, played by Chen Shu. Apart from her gorgeous appearance and somptuous costumes, she appeared as a competent, powerful and intelligent ruler right away, and remained incredibly charismatic throughout the show.
But although she was certainly my favorite, she was closely followed by Luo Luo for her…. well, everything, really. And I also really liked both Xu Yourong for her unbending way of sticking to her beliefs and morals, as well as Mo Yu for her competency, power, and ruthless fairness.
While Fighter of the Destiny didn’t blow my mind by how gorgeous and perfect everything was, I think it’s clear that a lot of effort was poured into it. The costumes and overall designs, for once were very creative even if they clearly didn’t have enough money to use expensive materials. The women’s hair jewelry, in particular, was beautiful to look at, as well as their costumes. I admit I fell in love with some of Yourong and the Empress’ costumes, which were a feast for the eyes.
Also, the background music worked very well, lending scenes an appropriately epic feel when required… so of course, they didn’t release it. Way to break my heart.
Special Guest Appearance
The icing on the cake? The presence of my favorite non-canon-but-totally-canon couple: Pingxie! Indeed, both Zeng Shun Xi and Xiao Yu Liang are in this one. It made me nostalgic for Ultimate Note.
All in All…
Fighter of the Destiny is a good adventure and friendship drama with plenty of laughter and tragedy both. Although the plot is far from airtight, the little group of friends in itself is a good reason to give it a try: Zeng Shunxi and Gao Hanyu both do a fantastic job with their mimics, and Wu Qian steals the show with how excellent she is. I also fell in love with the Empress, played flawlessly by a regal Chen Shu, who captivated me from the very first seconds of the drama and never let go right up until the end.
And in spite of some plot faults and pacing issues like characters knowing stuff they shouldn’t or things happening off-screen that shouldn’t have, it’s an entertaining, pretty easy watch, and one which clearly had effort put into it.
Give it a try, you might be surprised.
Title: Fighter of the Destiny
Starring: Lu Han, Wu Qian, Guli Nazha, Zeng Shunxi, Gao Hanyu, Chen Shu
Aired: 04/17/2017 to 06/01/2017
Number of episodes: 52
Genres: Xianxia, Action & Adventure, Friendship
My Rating: ★★★☆☆